Picture this: A county real estate association needs to update its Multiple Listings Service technology, and it has two options in mind. Product A has all kinds of bell and whistles, powerful search capabilities, and the ability to display more information, more photos, more of everything than the association's current system. Product B is a good program, but doesn't essentially offer more than an update of what they have now.
Sales Rep A, young, handsome, well dressed, very professional looking, gets up in front of 500 real estate agents, starts his sales pitch - and the equipment doesn't work. He fumbles with it for a few minutes, calls in some tech help from the facility sponsoring the event, and finally gets things working right. His self-confidence shattered, he stumbles through his presentation.
Sales Rep B, also well dressed, an older guy, maybe in his mid- to late fifties, you wouldn't think he'd have a handle on all this technology stuff, opens his laptop and turns it on; the laptop's display is projected onto a large screen, as he leads the audience through the software program's paces. The presentation is fast-paced, informative, and organized, the software works like a breeze, and the whole presentation looks great on the big screen. The audience is captivated.
Sales Rep A had the better product; Sales Rep B made the sale.
When you use technology to augment a sales presentation, you need to know how your equipment works. Whether you're showing transparencies on an overhead projector, displaying a Power Point presentation, or leading your audience through a real time demonstration of computer software, you need the expertise to interact with your equipment smoothly and without problems. Put your presentation together, fine tune it until it's perfect - and then practice, practice, practice, with your staff or a family member, until your delivery is smooth and dealing with the equipment itself is second nature.
If you're presenting a sales program in unfamiliar territory, it pays to contact the personnel responsible for the facility's audio-visual equipment. Call them up, ask questions about what kind of interface you need to plug into their equipment - whether it's sound, video, or a computer - and make sure you've got the cables and plugs necessary to use their equipment. Make sure you get the name and phone number of the tech person you'll be dealing with at the presentation, and call beforehand if you have questions.
The day of your presentation, show up early, find your tech contact, and go over the requirements of your equipment. If possible, do a dry run, in the same room as your presentation, if it's available. If you're prepared, and you communicate effectively with the tech personnel who are there to help you, your presentation will be flawless.
Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire and frequently contributes to Tips and Topics. She has published numerous articles in local and regional publications on a wide range of topics, including business, education, the arts, and local events. Her feature articles include an interview with independent documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and a feature on prisoners at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. She may be reached at email@example.com.